Title: It’s Not About Want, It’s About Need
Summary: Dennis knows what Cordy needs. Set during AtS s2.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Notes: Just a little something I wrote to keep from completely rusting, and also because I was attempting fluff. *coughs* It appears I need to keep trying. :D Thanks to Deb for the beta.
She comes home at three.
The moon is waning in the sky, the glow not so bright, not so knowing.
There’s an ache between her eyes. She rubs it without thinking, but the knot just rolls beneath her fingers and doesn’t go anywhere.
Dennis tugs at her collar and she lowers her arm, allowing him to strip her dirt streaked shirt off without resistance. Her jeans are next, and Dennis catches them up in a ball and floats them into the other room.
Cordelia follows slowly, and by the time she reaches her bed, she’s in a t-shirt and fleece shorts.
Her head sinks into the pillow at three-ten.
At three-twenty-three her eyes fly open and she makes a noise. A small, horrible noise that reminds Dennis of the one he made when he took his last gasp of air all those years ago.
He’s forgotten what legs feel like, what air tastes like. But he remembers that sound.
She rises from her warm bed and stands on the hardwood floor of her bedroom, her bared toes curling against the midnight chill.
At the touch of his ghostly fingers against the edges of her shirt, she goes forward as though propelled, into the hallway and then the kitchen.
He lights her way, already firing up the stove for tea.
But Cordelia makes another sound that might have been a ‘no’ and turns left suddenly, opening her freezer door.
Chocolate ice cream and a spoon. She pulls the top off almost desperately and digs the utensil into the cold treat with force.
She eats each spoonful fast, one after the other, until she stops and grabs at her forehead again.
It’s not a vision, though, or an aftereffect of a vision. He’s forgotten what they call it, but it’s harmless, just too much ice cream.
When it passes, she goes into the living room with it, plopping herself on the couch, reaching for the remote.
The news channels.
Local and CNN and Fox.
Dead babies. Broken bodies twisted into the metal of their automobiles. A war that no one can remember the reasons for.
One horrific story after another.
He knows she’s searching for the ones she couldn’t save, the visions that happened too late.
Her spoon dips into the container repeatedly, until it’s melting at the edges, over her fingers.
When she finds one of hers, she lets out a silent sob that shakes her shoulders, head bowed.
He wants to tell her she can’t save everyone but he doesn’t have a tongue left.
He wants to hold her because she looks so forlorn, but he has no arms left.
Another story scrolls across the bottom of the television and Cordelia’s hand shakes around the container. Her spoon drops.
An apartment building burning in South LA.
He remembers the dirt on her clothes, and realizes it was soot.
When he looks from the television to her, her cheeks are wet, tears mixing with ice cream stains.
He stands - hovers
- in front of the couch and wonders where her friends are.
The vampire is gone. Cordelia won’t even say his name. The other two come by during the day but never at night.
“Dennis,” she calls softly. “What does it feel like to die?” Terrifying
, he thinks. Lonely
“Does it hurt?” she continues, never looking away from the television as firemen pull bodies from the smoking building. “I always wanted to know, but it didn’t seem like something I could ask – him.”
She leans her head back against the couch and closes her eyes, the container falling to the side. He picks it up and throws it away in the dark kitchen.
When he comes back, her eyes are still closed.
“I’m tired Dennis,” she whispers.
He picks up the throw from her favorite chair to read in and tucks it around her shoulders, making sure her feet are covered. She keeps her eyes closed, drifting along the edges of dreaming. But she doesn’t fall all the way over, afraid of what she’ll see.
Dennis watches her, patient, waiting.
When she wrinkles her face as though she’s going to cry he moves to the phone and picks up the receiver. Concentrating, he punches in a series of numbers and waits.
She won’t thank him when she’s rested enough, but at least he’ll know he did what he could to keep her from getting killed because she was too tired to pay attention.
When he’s sure someone has answered, he whistles.
Barely a breath, really, but it’s enough.
Ten minutes goes by before a knock at the front door interrupts Dennis’ vigil.
Cordelia drifts, jerking awake and falling back asleep in a way that will leave circles the color of bruises under her eyes for days after. She didn’t hear the knock.
Dennis did, pushing the locks open and turning the tumblers.
The vampire fills the doorway in a way that has nothing to do with his physical size and everything to do with the chip on his shoulder.
Dennis doesn’t care what the problems between Cordelia and Angel are; he just wants her to be better.
He remembers that the vampire made the visions better.
He can do it again or Dennis will call up every minion in hell to dog his eternal footsteps.
He whispers this into Angel’s ear, knowing the vampire can’t hear him, but it makes him feel better.
Now he has to make her
He pulls back from the door and watches as the vampire searches the darkened apartment, zeroing in on Cordelia’s huddled form like a mongoose sighting a cobra.
She makes another small noise and Dennis sees the black ice in his eyes thaw infinitesimally.
The vampire enters her apartment as though it hadn’t been weeks since his last visit, crossing the short space to the couch with sure steps.
He hesitates then, gazing at her. Dennis tenses, wondering if he will just turn around and leave.
Then he sits carefully next to her, keeping a precise amount of space between them, hands in the pockets of his coat.
As though she senses the vampire’s presence, Cordelia suddenly jerks forward, and Angel barely has time to pull his hands free of his coat before her head bumps into his chest.
Hands hovering over her, he looks very lost, confused, and then he does what Dennis aches to do. He puts his hands on Cordelia’s shoulders and pulls her into the comfort of his body, easing her and himself back along the arm of the couch, cradling her against his chest.
Cordelia’s arms snake around the vampire’s waist and her breathing slowly steadies. In less than thirty seconds, she’s deeply asleep, breath coming in exhausted huffs.
Relief nearly makes Dennis’ energy palpable, and he immediately draws the curtains against the coming dawn.
Ghosts don’t get tired but his energy is low after so much concentrated activity and since Cordelia is in safe hands, Dennis resolves to go back into his wall and recharge.
The vampire calling his name stops him.
He turns and gazes back at them, huddled into each other on the couch, the whites of the vampire’s eyes plainly visible in the dark.
The vampire whispers a thank you, and even though he can’t see, Dennis nods in response.
He leaves them together, sleeping against the dawn.